“You almost take my breath way,” she said at last. “It’s very bewildering,” she smiled. “But are you sure you’re—” she paused. “I mean, isn’t there someone else to be consulted?”
“No,” he cried, I think a little triumphantly. “No one, I’m my own master. I can do as I please. How much do you want, Una? Would five thousand help? Five thousand right away? And then five thousand more the first of each month?”
She started back in her chair and gazed at him in an expression of mingled incredulity and dismay.
“And five thousand a month,” Jerry repeated firmly.
“You can’t mean—”
“I do. See here. I’ll show you.”
He felt in his pockets, I suppose for his check-book,—but could not find it. Naturally! It evidently wasn’t a habit of the pugilist Robinson to carry about in his hand-me-down suit a check-book carrying a bank balance of forty or fifty thousand dollars. He was rather put out at not finding it and felt that she must still consider his magnificent offer somewhat doubtfully.
“Well, I’ll send it to you tomorrow. You’ll see if I don’t.”
The boy was uppermost in him now and I saw the gay flash of her eye which recognized it—the enthusiast of Horsham Manor who wanted to help cure the “plague spots.”
“I knew it,” she laughed at him. “I knew you’d be somebody else if I only waited long enough. Now you’re Prester John and Don Quixote rolled into one. You propose by the simple process of financing the operation to turn our slums into Happy Valleys, our missions into gardens of resurrection. It’s a very beautiful purpose, Jerry, quite worthy of your colorful imagination, but the modern philanthropist doesn’t wed his Danae with a shower of gold. He’s discovered that it’s very likely to turn her head.”
“But if it’s wisely given—” he put in peevishly.
“Oh, wisely! That’s just the point.”
“It ought not to be so difficult.”
She smiled at him soberly.
“Charity isn’t merely giving money, Jerry,” she said. “Money sometimes does more harm than good.”
“I can’t see that.”
“It’s quite true. We try to keep people from being dependent. What you propose is a kind of philanthropic chaos. If I used your money as freely as you would like, it wouldn’t be long before half the people in my district would be living on you—giving nothing—no effort, no work, no self-respect in return. You don’t mind if I say so, but that sort of thing isn’t charity, Jerry. It’s merely sentimental tomfoolery which might by accident do some good, but would certainly do much harm.”
Jerry’s eyes opened wide as he listened. She was frank enough, but I couldn’t help admitting to myself that she was quite wise. Jerry was discovering that it wasn’t so easy to help as he had supposed. Whatever he may have thought of her theories of social science, he made no comment upon them.